Ven. Chan Master Hsin Tao is of the opinion that we and the Earth belong to the same common life community, and only when our planet is secure, our survival becomes possible. It is therefore our shared responsibility as earthlings to make certain that the Earth continues to display vitality.
The ever-increasing speed of development of technologies and economies since the industrial revolution has resulted in over-exploitation of natural resources over time, and the back-fire is inevitable: Nature started to fight back and ecological hazards show themselves in phenomena such as scale-back of once abundant natural resources, global warming, climate change, diminishing water resources, deteriorating environment, etc. One can but acknowledge the fact that our Mother Earth is not well.
We do need to take the security of the Earth seriously, and do that by living out what Master Hsin Tao’s global campaign of ‘Loving the Earth / Loving Peace’ prescribes. The Earth is drawing ever closer to a tipping point and the issue demands priority regardless of our differences in religion, race, country or region.
enough to transform the world into what the campaign aspires to: “Love and Peace / the World as One Family”. The Earth and the ecology will then thrive on the sustainability, whereas the humankind and sentient beings grow closer in their inter-dependence but enjoy a diversified symbiosis.
Come join us in the effort to repair and restore the ecology, and a warm welcome to the global campaign of “Loving the Earth”.
Green & Vegan
We all know that our planet has become ill because of our over-development and -use of land and natural resources. Ven. Chan Master Hsin Tao, founding abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) monasteries, hopes for a reversion of the situation, in that people would start out with an inner harmony and return to a spiritual realm, with a lot of organic elements and vegan diet in their life, so that a low-contamination constant would allow the Earth to regain health and grant us an opportunity for a sustainable Earth.
Towards that end, the LJM has been promoting a long-term campaign under the banner of “Loving the Earth” with a nine-point pledge to observe and live by: peace, love, dialogue, vegan diet, recycling, frugality, reduction of carbon footprint, water conservation, and go green. The campaign calls out for followers and participants to abide by the pledge and lead a life of simplicity and austerity, and help safeguard our environment for co-existence towards an ultimate goal of sustainability and world peace.
Chan meditation is an effective way of elevating the quality of life and spirituality, and Chan food can facilitate that as well. Together with “YoShan DaDi”(Friendly Earth), the LJM co-organizes ‘Green Culinary Workshop’ and train chefs in preparing food the green way. Lecturers are experts with professional experiences for hands-on and they include Wu Gen-Fa, Yang Tsoong-Guei, Chen Yu-Tian, etc. Learning from the wealth of expertise and experiences of the lecturers, the workshop affords participants with insight into the green eco-chain from ranches and farms over kitchen tips to retain nutrition without sacrificing the taste of food, to the culture of Chan food. It goes without saying that people by necessity learn how to eat their way to health, of course.
To do good in, and with, our daily life is to do our best and consume only clean food and water, so that what we eat and drink never come close to any form of exploitation of the Earth’s resources. Put differently, always handle our mind, body and soul properly can be viewed as a concrete way of ‘loving the Earth’, and therefore, a natural cycle and loop. Thus accordingly, Master Hsin Tao mobilized the “Green & Vegan” campaign in the hope that the workshop series will help yield seeds of goodness to help push the campaign of “Loving the Earth”. We would like to know that when we cleanse our body with the help of ‘Green & Vegan’, we help contribute to making our planet a healthier and better place for living.
DaShanYuan Monastery in Symbiosis with Nature - LJM’s Teaching Farm at NaungMon
Upon entering the NaungMon Teaching Farm at the DaShanYuan Monastery (Mahā Kusalā Yāma Monastery), you realize that it is the teaching area of an organic farm on its way ‘back to Nature’. Master Chang Le (meaning ‘always happy’ and true to form he was often full of smiles) then took us on a guided tour, and we got a good look at the adjacent land surrounding the DaShanYuan Monastery in its original virgin state. We saw rows of hills, and paddy fields were seen together with green wilderness, then we recalled the blueprint we had seen which shows constructions neatly interwoven into the landscape to live up to the guiding principle of a ‘diversified symbiosis’. The buildings will include the Shrine for the Sitting Buddha and Reclining Buddha, the Shrine for GuanYin (Avalokitesvara), the Women’s College and dormitory. Here the Sramanera or novice monks will not only study Buddhism, but they will be maturing in an environment where our signature ‘Education on Life’ is what they breathe, see, feel, learn from and grow up with. It is hoped that they will be the seeds of good that spread love, life, and peace around.
In striking a balance between nature and farmland, there are areas inside the NaungMon Teaching Farm designated for rice field, and greenhouses for incubation and pre-plantation for all sorts of plants, with the overall plan of the organic farm in observation of environmental protection. Master Chang Le specifically pointed out that the acquisition of farmland in Myanmar follows rather peculiar game-rules that boils down to the ‘First come, first served’ principle. When an area of unfenced land has stayed idle and not attended to for longer than 3 years, any trespassers can move in to ‘occupy’ and claim ownership, resulting in a scenario even legal prosecution is to no avail. It is simply how things work in Myanmar - by implicit consensus dictated by social code. Indeed, we actually did see cement pillars erected on hill land, ready for barb-wired fencing sometime in the not too distant future manybe.
Master Chang Le further offered to inform that farmers in the neighborhood grow large numbers of corn which is a concern. Corns are light-root corps that are not friendly to soil and water conservation, and the top layer of soil gets scraped off from time to time as they quickly turn ‘barren’ as a corn field. Besides, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used and that is detrimental and hazardous to human health. With our teaching farm, we hope to demonstrate how it can be done more sensibly while being environmentally friendly and sustainable. Take green beans for starters. We sow the beans and and turn the soil as soon as the beans sprout, and the sprout becomes organic fertilizer that is way more economical as well. It is our hope that the concept of symbiosis with Nature can help turn things around and back to organic farming. Master Chang Le was visibly quite conscious about his challenging responsibilities, yet we were more impressed with his care and love for the world and for life, and more importantly, for the soil under our feet. Looking back and in hindsight, and given how GMOs have negatively impacted the global food chain and people’s food safety, Master Hsin Tao’s vision and farsight easily stand out by their manifestation in what the LJM Buddhist Society has been accomplishing under the ‘Love the Earth’ banner aimed at protecting the environment and purifying our heart and mind.
In the incubation greenhouses there are many different kinds of vegetation and plants, and particularly worth mentioning is that there are quite a few local plants that are wild and grow fast and well. Such are precious gifts sent by Heaven and ought to be conserved. Case in point: wild mint that grows to blanket large areas and is easily accessible. Plantations inside the Teaching Farm are all purpose-oriented. There will be 5,000 Burmese Teaks to enhance the Farm’s privacy, whereas the rice field and vegetable area for quick turnarounds help make sure that the Farm stays self-reliant.
Furthermore, there are areas designated for local herbs, lemongrass, MeiTengGuo (Plukenetia volubilis Linneo, or American Rattan Fruit, aka Star Fruit or Inca Fruit) etc., for food consumption, health, and medicinal purposes. Essence of oil distilled from the lemongrass there works well as insect-repelliant against mosquittoes. MeiTengGuo, in particular, is a plant high in yield and in value. Base materials, for instance, can be obtained from its fruit shell and leaves for soaps good for skincare. Its nuts are rich in nutrient Omega 3、6、9 that makes excellent kitchen oil for salads, cold cuts, and dishes that require no cooking to avoid temperature spoilage. The MeiTengGuo nuts also work well as nutrients helpful with cases like diabetes, hypertensions, and memory repair and improvement.
Master Heng Ming, meanwhile, introduced us to an area where sweet potato and parsley grow mixed together for demonstration purposes: the aroma of parsley keeps worms away and the organic farming tip takes the pesticides off the list, whereas the very same concept gave people the idea to produce natural enzymes from kitchen leftovers from plants that can be used in detergents for dishwashing, sewage cleansing, as well as air sprays to ward off bugs. In short, the showcase displays how going back to Nature merits and can well be our way out from all the man-made environment pollutions.
If the School of Sramanera can be viewed as Showcase 101 for ‘Education on Life’ to take deep rooting locally, then the NaungMon Teaching Farm is literally a physical demonstration of how concepts like respect, symbiosis, and appreciation can be concretely and convincingly manifested, namely by truly understanding the land and its people and get into sync with Nature, so that ‘providing for each other and harvesting from each other’ becomes mutual and benevolent long-term.
‘Loving the Earth / Loving Peace’ is not just slogan you chant, but down-to-earth action you take. And if we take the example of the NaungMon Teaching Farm further and imagine people elsewhere, in similar ways, can easily brew a pot of tea with suitable plants picked on roadside, or that visitors to other organic gardens can savor fruit salads with dressing all home-grown to feel blessed and grateful to the Earth and to life itself. We look forward to creating and repeating such experiences for compassion and good karma, and to forge ahead towards the goal of a peaceful co-existence for all countries and people in the world, and for a diversified symbiosis for Nature and all sentient beings.